'Fitna' released early this month has sparked the anger of Muslims around the world. The film, by Dutch-right winger Mr. Geert Wilders has been rumored to be released early this year with members of the Dutch government warning him not do so. Inspite of it, he had promised it to be too shocking, too frightening, too disturbing and much of the world was holding its breath in morbid, anxious, waiting for its release. So far, the reactions of Muslims, are highly predictable and expected. Protests, rallies, death threats and boycott calls has been called from every major Muslim country. Complete with each country announcing its own religious decree (fatwa) and mode of response.
Recently, however, the subject of boycott has been of major debate. Its easy to instill boycott for Denmark on the justification that its government support the publication of the Prophet's saw caricature . Its also a no-brainer to boycott Israel as they are an illegal country oppressing human beings. It was even easy in 1948 to boycott South Africa for Apartheid. But the question of boycotting the Netherlands involves considering the fact that the Dutch government never supported Wilders's action, he, on his own accord published it online. Therefore, should we punish the country for one man's rash action? The fact that 1 in 16 Dutch are Muslims. Therefore, will not the boycott also affect them? But then, how can we sit still? We love Islam and we want to protect it. They cannot simply abuse Islam whenever they feel like it. Needless to say, the arguments I've come upon are endless. Each standpoint strongly upholding their angle but at the same time allowing freedom of choice amongst the public. Of all the standpoints, there is one that I agree with but was not satisfied with. The main thing not answered is Why? and, hence, What can we do?
What I Found.
Geert Wilder is not the first Dutch to condemn Islam.
In 2002, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian-borned Muslim who seeked asylum in the Netherlands in 1992, renounced Islam and became an atheist. She was the subject of major controversies with statements describing the Prophet saw as a 'pervert', calling Islam a religion of violence and says that Muslim immigration is a danger for Europe. She wrote a script and provided the voice-over of Submission, criticizing the treatment of women in Islamic society. She later went into hiding due to some death threats and worries over her safety. Government service then move her around Netherlands, then finally to the United States, then back to an unknown location in the Netherlands. In early 2007, she stated that the Dutch state spent about 3.5 million euros providing armed guards for her, and the threats made her live "in fear and looking over my shoulder", but she was willing to endure this for the sake of speaking her mind. A private trust, the Foundation For Freedom of Expression was established to help fund protection of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and other Muslim dissidents.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali did not work alone. She was part of the right-wing liberal VVD party, together with Geert Wilder and Rita Verdonk. In 2003, Verdonk was appointed Minister for Integration and Immigration. Her immigration policies are ruthless. In order to reduce migration through marriage, she has proposed that partners of Dutch citizens are only allowed to immigrate into the Netherlands if the Dutch partner earns more than 120% of the minimum income. She refused to grant a general pardon to around 26,000 asylum seekers who had their asylum application turned down but who have been living in the Netherlands for more than 5 years. To integrate migrants into the Dutch society, every person who wants to immigrate into the Netherlands must pass an integration test, except for those who come from other European Union-member states, United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand (these immigrants must still take a year of integration classes). She was expelled from VVD's parliment fraction on September 13, 2007.
The director of Submission, Theo Van Gogh rejected every form of religion. In the late 1990s he started to focus on Islam. He caused widespread resentment in the Muslim community by consistently referring to them as geitenneukers. He felt strongly that political Islam is an increasing threat to liberal western societies, and said that, if he'd been younger, he would have emigrated to the USA, which he considered to be a beacon of light in a darkening world. Mohamad Bouyeri murdered Van Gogh in the early morning of Tuesday November 2 2004 in Amsterdam. He shot him eight times and Van Gogh died on the spot. Bouyeri then cut Van Gogh's throat, nearly decapitating him, and stabbed him in the chest. Two knives were left implanted in his torso, one attaching a five-page note to his body. The note threatened Western governments, Jews and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who went into hiding).
Another guy to look at is Pim Fortuyn. He was an openly gay, charismatic, right-wing politician who formed his own party, Lijst Pim Fortuyn. He was assassinated during the 2002 Dutch National Campaign by a militant animal rights activist Volkert van der Graaf, who claimed in court to murdering Fortuyn to stop him exploiting Muslims as "scapegoats" and targeting "the weak parts of society to score points" in seeking political power.
It seems like the Dutch political scene has been marred by many anti-Islam outbursts, anti-Islam, anti-immigration policies and the violent reactions of Muslims involving death threats, assault and death.
This is all sadistic and very very sad. But, let's move on..
These are politicians. What about the Dutch people?
According to statistics, 3 out of 4 citizens of the Netherlands reject populist lawmaker's call for the al-Quran to be banned, according to a poll that also indicates a deep level of concern about the role of Islam in their country.
Other survey results indicate that many Dutch are concerned about the inter-communal and inter-religious situation in their country, where 1 in every 16 citizens is now of the Muslim faith.
Almost 70% of the respondents agreed that the Dutch political parties do not openly discuss the subject of Islam enough.
50% said the content of the al-Quran was more violent with respect to 'unbelievers' than the Bible or Torah. While 30% disagreed.
51% said Islam in the Netherlands "threatens" the country's culture and 13% said it "enriches" it.
And asked their views about the integration of Islam in the Netherlands, 17% said they were optimistic, 65% said pessimistic and 17% declared themselves neutral on the subject.
I will talk about the Dutch people more later on. Here. I want to introduce you to..
Ehsan Jami is an Iranian whose father is a Muslim but was non-religious and mother converted to Christianity. After 9/11 in 2001, Jami started reading the Qur'an and Hadith, after which he decided he didn't identify with either. Jami criticized the Prophet saw, describing him as a "criminal". Together with Lubna Berrada, Jami founded the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims in 2007. The organisation, aims to support apostates of Islam. Berrada left the committee shortly after it was founded because she felt Jami challenged Islam itself too much, saying: "I don't wish to confront Islam itself. I only want to spread the message that Muslims should be allowed to leave Islam behind without being threatened".
Wilders said his call for the al-Quran to be banned was sparked by an attack by Muslims on Ehsan Jami. He was not hurt, but the assault was one of a number of violent incidents in recent years in which critics of Islam have been targetted.
Geert Wilders and Israel
In the past twenty five years Geert Wilders has visited Israel about forty times, where he has, according to his own sayings, met Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert personally. He claims to have tight connections with the Mossad.
Originally, Wilders wanted to move to the Jewish state. Wilders worked in bread factories and a moshav. With the money he earned, he traveled through Israel and some near countries. He started to love Israel, or as he states it in his own words in 2003: "The past years I have visited many interesting countries, from Tunisia to Turkey and from Cyprus to Iran, but nowhere I have that special feeling of solidarity that I always get if I set foot on the Israeli Ben Gurion Airport."
Wilders has, in the eight years he has served in the Dutch Parliament, always supported Israel and attacked countries he perceives as enemies of Israel.
Furthermore, Wilders has made some proposals in the Dutch Parliament inspired by Israel. For example, in 2005 Wilders proposed implementing Israel's administrative detention in the Netherlands, a practice heavily criticized by human rights group Amnesty International. Also, at the time Wilders was a member of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, he had an employee who directly came from the Israeli Embassy.
Coming Back to the Issue at Hand
Ok. So, I've talked long and hard about the background of the situation in the Netherlands. What has been going on, what the people actually think and how Muslims have reacted. You can see clearly that the reactions has been mostly pressure by violence. Well, is it effective?
Even though, I give many examples of politicians condemning Islam, look again. These are politicians of the right-wing party. At the moment, they constitute about 20% of the parliament. Even though that's a lot, it's not the majority. Remember, Rita Verdonk was expelled from her party. Geert Wilders is also highly criticized by bulk of the politicians. The majority of the parliament do not agree with them.
The Dutch people do not agree with them. By nature, the Dutch is fine with the Dutch Muslims. However, according to past Dutch political history, when Ayaan Hirsi Ali was given media attention, votes/support for the right-wing party increases. Then, it decreases. Then, it increases again when Pim Fortuyn was murdered. After that, it decreases again. Then again it rises when Van Gogh was murdered in 2004. The Dutch by nature is okay with the Muslims. But, when they see how Muslims react, by violence, they tend to equate Islam with violence. Then, of course they start to feel afraid and terrorized and their votes will sway towards the opposition.
70% of the Dutch said that the politicians were not discussing Islam openly enough.
What does this show?
The Dutch wants to get to know Islam. They are interested. They are also being extremely diplomatic and fair. They want to understand Islam and to really see if it is as violent as how the media is portraying it. They also want more transparency in the politics.
51% said Islam in the Netherlands "threatens" the country's culture.
Wilders wanted to move to the Jewish state...He started to love Israel
What does these two statements have in common? Okay...like this...
1 in 16 Dutch is a Muslim. After 9/11, the fraction of Muslims in the Europe is also rapidly increasing. Islam has now even overtaken Christian Catholic as the largest single religious denomination. Islam at 19.2% and Catholic at 17.4% of world population.
The non-Muslim Dutch, from what I can see, is not afraid of Islam. They are afraid of losing their European/Dutch identity, essence and culture. Specifically, Rita Verdonk was afraid of losing the 'white man' identity. Remember, she created the policy of 'integration' for immigrants except those from European countries, United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. All essentially 'white man' countries, except Japan.
This situation is comparable to the scene in Malaysia. Chinese and Indians are reluctant to convert to Islam because 'masuk Islam' (becoming a Muslim) is equivalent to 'masuk Melayu' (becoming a Malay). However, if Chinese or Indians want to convert to Christianity, it does not cause that much trouble.
So, the Dutch feels that embracing Islam is becoming an Arab. They don't want to become an Arab. They are Dutch. They are Europeans. They essentially want a personal, own identity, culture and essence. In fact, I'm sure every race in the world would want this. Their own essence. Their own culture and language and so on, that only they are familiar with or experts in. Something they would feel belongs to them alone. Something you can say 'Home Sweet Home' to.
Relate this with the Jews and their Jewish State. In essence, they are an exiled race that want their own country. However, the oppression and cruelty they inflict on other fellow human beings are disgraceful and does not justify their need for a country. The Palestinian never incurred any harm to them. They don't deserve the cruelty. If you want to blame anyone, blame the Germans and demand your compensation from them, not from the innocent Palestinian.
Geert Wilder feels he can relate to the Jewish State. He shares the same feeling of wanting to maintain the Dutch identity. He sees immigrants and Islam as a threat, threatening his country's culture. So, even though he fight for democracy and freedom (Wilders was a member of the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy), he practically made a total exception for Israel by supporting them in their brutal fight for an independent existence.
The non-Muslims or the Dutch views us the Muslims as a violent group of people, they view Islam not as a religion but as a whole set of culture and race (Arab), due to misunderstanding, misinterpretation and quoting out of context and quoting without knowledge, they view the Quran as something dangerous, they see Islam as merciless as even those who want to leave it are assaulted.
But, they are also open to dialogue. They see that Muslims are becoming more and more and they see how Muslims always defends Islam. Their leaders are also fair and diplomatic. And even though pressured by 20% of the parliament, they are always trying to calm things down, put out the fire but at the same time try to balance the sentiments of their people. Muslims are always saying the things said are misinterpretations. They seem willing to hear the explanations.
(1) Practise the true method of reconciliation/advise/counsel in Islam. Which is:
- counsel, then if failed
- counsel again, then if failed
- counsel again, then if failed
- leave it and let be.
(2) This also apply to apostacy (Murtad) in Islam, but with slight change at the end:
- counsel, then if failed
- counsel again, then if failed
- counsel again, then if failed
- leave it and let be, but if they threaten Islam : kill them
Remember the story about Ehsan Jami. Why did he need to set up a support group for ex-Muslims? Its because, they are assaulted.
We, Muslims tend to jump to the last step before going through the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. You have to talk to the person first. Ask them, why did they leave Islam. What problems are they facing with Islam?
We, the Muslims, do we believe in Islam? Do we not believe that Islam is the absolute truth? The truth! Meaning there can be absolutely nothing that can be wrong with Islam. Meaning every single word in the Quran is the truth. Not a single word wrong. You. Muslims. Do you believe this?
Yes, right... Therefore, if it is the absolute truth, then the reason that person left Islam is because there is something wrong with the person, not Islam itself. For if it is the truth, then no one would even want to leave Islam. Therefore, we need to talk to the apostate. Maybe he/she does not truly understand Islam. Or, they have been exposed to misinterpretations. Or, they have abused by people who call themselves Muslims, hence damaging the Muslim image.
These people are not true apostates. The apostates that Islam said to kill are those that when they know this undeniable truth, the reject it, which is the biggest discredit anyone can do to themselves.
Its like two roads. Road A is lined with nice, shady trees on the side, with a cool waterfall at the end and smooth road to it. Road B has fire, dragons and thorns on the path. You are walking with your friend. It is evident that you guys should take Road A. But, your friend suddenly moves towards Road B. First, you call her. Then you call her again louder. Then you shout for her to come. In the end, you would just run and pull her to Road A before she hurts herself.
Why do you do this? Because you love her. You care for her.
But, what if she started throwing stones and knives at you? Then she started to pull you with her to the dragon's mouth? What else can you do but fight her off? It is standard self-defense.
(4) Address misunderstandings of Islam. Don't ignore them.
(5) Reveal the truth of Islam.
(6) Clear-up misinterpretations.
(7) Show the real Islam. Compassion, equality, profesionality, structured response and organisations, intelligence, etc.
(8) Never forget the power of reminders, helping each other by always reminding each other of the values Islam promote (nasihat-menasihati).
(9) Do not make Islam an elite, exclusive or racist religion. Islam is a blessing to all of mankind. So, do not portray it as being exclusively Arab or exclusively Melayu. Converts do not have to change their name, they do have to change their clothes, neither do they have to change their culture and traditions.
It is very difficult for me to believe that a well-brought up person like Mr. Geert Wilders, born in a perfectly good country, nurtured like any other man with instilled good, humane values could express so much hatred to a religion of which I have embraced my entire life without doubts and hesitancy and which I find beautiful and in accordance with democracy. I should know. I read the Quran since I was a child, almost every day. I know its contents and any questions I have, they are all answered. I know the contents and believe me they do not contradict with human rights. Therefore, I believe, we have to identify the root of the problem and address them. The above writing is the result of my search for that root.
Possible cause of Mr. Wilder's actions:
A. He doesn't understand Islam as he only sees the misinterpretations.
B. He only sees Islam as terror like in the media.
C. He has had traumatic/bad experience with Muslims.
D. He is just a bad-tempered politician who wants attention.
E. He is a manipulative person that wants manipulate the al-Quran for his own sadistic pleasure.
F. He is evil and harbor a vengence against Islam because he is jealous of us, he secretly envy us Muslims.
G. He is a racist who hates coloured people.
It is tempting for us to want to believe options D to G. But ponder, Who are we to judge? Do we know the contents of his heart? Can we look into his mind? Can we see what he actually thinks about? Does Islam ever teaches us to make negative assumptions? Does Islam ever teaches us to go straight to war and killings whenever we are challenged? Have we even talk? Explained? Who are we to judge? Do we know Mr. Wilders personally? Have we even talk to him? Are we close personal friends of him that we know everything about him that we can say with no doubt that he is an evil enemy of Islam? Who are we to judge?
Only Allah swt knows the true content of any human being's heart. We do not have the right to judge.
Yes! We have to defend Islam! Tell the world what Mr. Wilders did was wrong! But, tell also why what he did is wrong...You have to provide proof for your claims. Explain! Engage in dialogues! Etc..Etc... Never forget. Islam can answer for itself.
al-Imam Hasan al-Banna berkata
"Jangan sekali-kali menaruh kebencian terhadap seseorang! Kamu boleh membenci perbuatan mereka tetapi mintalah petunjuk buat mereka. Bukankah sebaik-baik saja terjadinya musibah dalam peperangan Uhud, Rasulullah SAW berdoa:
"Ya Allah! Berikanlah petunjuk kepada kaumku sesungguhnya mereka tidak mengetahui."
Begitulah budaya nasihat menasihati akan terus berlangsung selagi manusia memerlukan manusia lain untuk membantu kehidupannya. Manusia berakal waras akan mematuhi nasihat baik yang memandu kehidupannya di dunia dan di akhirat tanpa melihat siapa yang memberi nasihat itu.....
My last word : Solve the cause, not the symptoms.